Thursday, May 31, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Night of the Owls Part 7: Batman Annual #1

The month of Owls ends with the Batman Annual this week, and to be honest, this event more or less just happens during the Night of the Owls.

That said, it ties in just enough to count and the story content definitely makes it worth a buy. I would note that the annual is $4.99, so it is an additional two bucks, but for the pure purpose of discussion and understanding of the Mr. Freeze character, this book would be worth a normal buy price. With Scott Snyder's writing and brilliant art from Jason Fabok, this is totally worth the price of admission.

I gave my overall assessment of this first Annual of the New 52 Batman era because most of this will be discussion on the new revelations that were revealed here. First off, for those who want to know the plot, Freeze is escaping Arkham in order to get to Bruce Wayne, who apparently has Nora's pod in his possession.

This leads to the major change in Freeze's character that everyone will be talking about. I don't want to put it on here because I don't post major spoilers, but rest assured, it alters the way Freeze will be viewed in the minds of readers.

The Paul Dini backstory changed Freeze from a cookie-cutter gimmick villain into a Shakespearean tragedy. These changes make him a sociopath who likes the unchanging nature of frozen things because they allow him to hold onto their ideals.

While taken on its own, it's not a terrible characterization, but to a degree, Batman had that in the Mad Hatter. He used mind control to mold the world to his ideals because he lacked the ability to fit into society normally and did not want to simply fall into a role.

Of course, based on the Hatter's appearance in Batman: TDK it may be that his characterization is changed as well. The question is whether or not these changes are good.

Personally, I don't like the roles that have come to Freeze and the Hatter. Freeze has been a fun character to have in the books since the TV series because while his actions were evil, you had legitimate sympathy. Given what he had been through, you wanted to see him arrested while also wanting to see him succeed and finally have his wife at his side.

There is really no sympathy in the character now. This is especially seen in the closing flashback to his mother. My take on it was that he did what he did because she was no longer the person he loved from the opening flashback, which is actually a pretty disgusting act.

All this said, I didn't much like the Bruce Wayne character here. He was not good at diffusing situations and in many ways caused many of his own problems with Fries. His lessons also didn't appear to be learned in the present, as he was incredibly rude to him there as well.

Oh, and that raises another interesting point: Bruce Wayne just got back from training to be Batman six years ago. Yes, the entire Batman universe's history has been condensed into six years.

You want continuity problems, how's this one? Damian Wayne. This implies he met Talia, which changes the natural progression of the Bruce-Ra's dynamic.

Once again, this is overall a good story, but it has caused a lot of universe problems that need to be worked out.

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